Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake Park District discuss annexation agreement

Vote could come soon on LITH, park district agreement

A sketch shows the plan for the 27 acres of land at 8917 Ackman Road that Lake in the Hills is considering annexing.
A sketch shows the plan for the 27 acres of land at 8917 Ackman Road that Lake in the Hills is considering annexing.

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Residents in the village would have discounted user fees at a potential recreation center and swimming pool on Ackman Road, if the Crystal Lake Park District builds the facility.

The park district and Lake in the Hills village administration have put together a proposed annexation agreement for 27 acres of land at 8917 Ackman Road.

Officials discussed the agreement at Tuesday’s Lake in the Hills Committee of the Whole meeting. Lake in the Hills Village Board members are scheduled to next discuss the agreement in about two weeks.

The park district is asking the village to annex the land and zone it for institutional building use. The park district potentially plans to build a community recreation center and swimming facility sometime in the future.

Under the draft annexation agreement, the village would waive its $1,000 per acre annexation fee, as well as lake/stream maintenance fees.

The village would not charge the park district for building inspections done by village employees. However, the park district would have to pay for any inspections the village has to outsource.

In exchange, the park district would offer Lake in the Hills residents – who don’t live in the park district boundaries – a special rate to use the potential community recreation center and aquatic center.

Lake in the Hills residents would be charged no more than the midpoint between the park district resident fee and the nonresident fee, under the draft agreement.

Trustee Stephen Harlfinger said he was happy to see the special user fees for Lake in the Hills residents at the potential facility.

“If they’re willing to work with us, as far as that special fee, I think that’s an agreeable stance,” Harlfinger said.

The proposed annexation agreement would be in place for 20 years if approved. It also allows the park district to obtain potable water from another entity, such as the city of Crystal Lake or village of Lakewood, if Lake in the Hills cannot supply sufficient water.

The park district plans to purchase the property, which is the old Crystal Highlands Golf Course, for $625,000 from property owner Sara Wirkus.

If the park district doesn’t complete the purchase, the agreement and planned zoning would be null and void, according to a letter written by village attorney Michael Smoron.

“The thought being that the village is annexing the property with the expectation that the park district will develop it with recreational amenities,” Smoron wrote. “If that is not the case, the village would wish to negotiate a different annexation agreement, with much different terms, with a private sector purchaser.”

Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster said the key focus of the potential project would be a recreation center that can be used year-round.

It could have a fitness center, indoor walking track and general purpose rooms, among other things, Herbster said.

The center would act as a gathering spot for people of all ages, Herbster said.

He added a potential project would most likely need referendum approval. The park district doesn’t have money in its tax levy or its fund balances to pay for the project.

To be good neighbors to nearby houses near the western border of the property, the park district plans to have a 150-foot setback for parking and 200-foot setback for any building. Normal setbacks are 25 feet.

The park district also would provide plans for lighting, building layout, landscaping, among other things to the village, as part of the annexation agreement.

What’s next?

The Lake in the Hills Village Board members are scheduled to discuss a final annexation agreement at its next Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 25, and potentially vote on the agreement Feb. 27.

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